November 16th, 2012 by Charis Michelsen
Hi, I’m Charis Michelsen. I write about cars (among other important things). I’ve got a Kia Optima hybrid (there’s a giant robot joke in here somewhere, I’m sure) lurking in my parking spot this week. I have been playing with it to see what it would and would not do. Technicalities about the car, if you’re curious, are in the first post.
I have now returned the car, and (despite the flashy, flashy rims) I was sad to see it go. It was super fun.
Because Details Are Important
Blind Spot Visibility: It is possible that I complained about blind spot visibility early on, and the Optima does kind of have a large C-pillar. Once I got used to it, though (which took all of two days), there was no problem. Visibility ok!
Road Noise: What road noise? …no, seriously, it was quiet. Super quiet. The ICE was quiet, it was silent in EV mode, and there wasn’t a lot of noise from outside (well, until I opened the windows, anyway).
Media: Okay, I put music on my phone just so I could test that feature, and had a very frustrating drive out to Rockford trying to poke all the buttons and figure out why it wasn’t working. Turns out that you have to hit the “media” button twice, FYI. (Which, I might add, is in the manual. Read the manual, guys. It’s helpful.)
Kia Optima Hybrid: Performance vs. Mileage
Over the course of seven days, I drove the Optima 629 miles. I drove on the tollway, the interstate, local highways, in Chicago city traffic, in Rockford city traffic, and through various parts of the Northwest Suburbs. During that time, the Optima averaged around 32mpg.
Looking at the car purely from a fuel-saving point of view, I’m not that impressed. Once I take into account that it also accelerates enthusiastically, handles really well (not floaty or twitchy at all but not overly tight either), and happily hangs out in the left lane doing 80mph for miles at a time, I actually kind of am. Impressed, that is.
I do not have a pic of this, because it would be irresponsible of me to be fiddling with my phone while attempting to accelerate around a semi, but the Optima hybrid does use both the ICE and the electric motor if you’re really trying to suddenly speed up. (Because the semi is actively trying to kill you, apparently, or is that just me?)
The Kia Optima hybrid was neither brilliantly fast or brilliantly fuel-efficient, but it compromises well between the two. I really liked that. It’s also a comfortable environment for lots of driving (I was not sick of sitting in it by the end of the week).
I definitely walked away from this with a net positive impression.
PS – Remember the Classic iPod?
There’s a cord for connecting Apple devices, and I was given one with the car, and I plugged it into the iPod. That up there happened for a while, and I was already composing snarky commentary in my head about lack of backwards compatibility. And then!
Full points, Kia – not only did it actually properly interface with my ancient, ancient iPod, but it also properly displays Chinese, Japanese, and Korean text. Kia has put a lot of attention into the details, and I really appreciated that.
Until next time!
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